RIVER FALLS -- When he was a child, River Falls resident Tom Platzer, 70, struggled mightily with his spelling. In one instance, after misspelling a word, his teacher made him write the work 100 times on the chalkboard. The following day, he misspelled the word again.
“My main philosophy was that I would grow out of this. I always held that in the back of my mind. Now I look at it as not so much being about my dyslexia, but the ignorance of my teachers at the time. They did not have that ability to move outside of the box like I did,” Platzer said.
The only way Platzer could ever remember how to spell any word was using rhymes, which lead to his lifelong love for poetry. With so many years of poetry written down to help him express himself and chronicle his life experiences, Platzer figured it was finally time to put those poems and thoughts down into a book to share with others. “The Dyslexic Poet” contains 80 of Platzer’s poems as well as an autobiography.
“I’ve got a pretty interesting past. My dad was in the first World War. So, I’ve got their turn of the century philosophies. I still call a refrigerator an ice box,” Platzer said. “The book is almost a diary. There is some cute stuff in there and some stuff from when I went through a divorce. I hope something like this might inspire other people.”
According to Platzer, dyslexic people tend to be athletic and artistic, since they know how to think outside the box because that is how they have to work in order to live. Platzer — who is originally from St. Paul — was an art student of the year and was also all-city in football.
“I found out I was dyslexic after getting tested at the University of Minnesota. They said I had a beginning college reading ability, but I had second grade spelling ability. I did go to school for the learning and disabled, a night school type of thing. They were very helpful. It was kind of like a repetitive thing where you learn the same thing over and over until it sunk in,” Platzer said. “My inability to spell stopped me from being able to go into certain professions. I would have liked to have been a police officer and a lot of other things. I was a machine operator at work, but I couldn’t move up as technology advanced.”
Platzer moved to River Falls after retiring from his factory job in the Twin Cities following a 42 ½ year career as a machine operator.
“The book is interesting because of the little tales I tell in it about my life. They probably aren’t the same things that today’s generation will tell, since we didn’t have iPods and such,” Platzer said.
Although he just published his first book, Platzer is looking forward to publishing his second book.
“This one would be an adolescent type adventure book. I already wrote it, it is just a matter of typing it up. This first book of mine was typed with one finger since I don’t know how to type,” Platzer said.
“The Dyslexic Poet” can be purchased from Barnes & Noble and Amazon, Platzer said.